Welcome to our first blog post! We hope you enjoy!
Born, raised and having lived in London, Turkey, South Africa and Greece, Mila-London’s founders, Rosy Fox-Andrews and Sharon Ozbek, launched their long-awaited brand in 2021 bringing to life their shared homewares vision that sees a classic style redefined with a contemporary twist.
We pulled together your most frequently asked questions and put them to our founders, Rosy and Sharon…
What’s the story behind Mila?
RFA: Sharon and I have known each other for 20 years. We always connected on homewares and interiors in a manner I was not able to with other friends. We would discuss trends and obsess over Cabana Magazine way before they were well-known like they are today. We come from different career backgrounds, mine in interior design and Sharon in fashion, but found we shared many interests. We were both running other businesses but one day in 2019 we decided to go for it!
What makes Mila unique?
SO: There is nothing ‘manufactured’ about our products. All our cotton and linen collections are designed by us in London with the help of our lovely artist. The line has developed organically, influenced by our love of vintage and travel. We use traditional production methods such as beautifully mitred corners on our tablecloths, napkins and placemats, whilst offering a contemporary twist on classic styles when it comes to the designs. Our ceramics, produced in South Africa where I am from, are all lovingly handmade and hand painted making each and every one unique.
Where does your inspiration come from?
SO: I grew up in South Africa and had a typical African childhood, influenced by the beauty and rawness of the continent. My father was a collector of art so I was lucky to grow up surrounded by beautiful paintings. I married and lived in Istanbul for 8 years. The excitement of living in a city that is a mixture of Asia and Europe, a city of contrast and variety, had an influence on me, and I became interested and inspired by Ottoman and Islamic art.
RFA: We have different tastes but we easily come together when we are designing. We both love pattern, print and colours. Sharon brings in Middle Eastern and African colours whereas I love traditional European style. The beauty of starting a brand later in life is that we have so many experiences to draw from. Our Birds in Paradise collection was inspired by a threadbare cutting of 18th Century toile that I’d saved from my early interior design days. We worked with our artist to reimagine it in a contemporary way.
Why the name Mila?
SO: This is Rosy's story of one of the many beautiful dogs she has helped rescue in Zakynthos, Greece. I have always loved hearing the stories of this wonderful group of people passionately committed to helping homeless dogs. We are both animal lovers.
RFA: Mila was one of many dogs I fostered in Greece through my work with Zante Strays; a charity to help save homeless dogs. She had an autoimmune disease. I did my best for her but I was not able to save her. So she lives on. I always loved the name Mila, it has different meanings: gracious, dear one and speak.
When are Mila products in their element?
RFA: We believe you can dress your linens for Summer and Winter and use them year round. We don’t believe in having items sitting in your cupboards, unused, for 10 months a year. Sharon is amazing at creating seasonal tablescapes and really demonstrates how a tablecloth can be a lifelong investment that can be dressed for (almost) every occasion.
SO: I love mixing and matching Mila products. Whether it’s with vintage finds from South Africa or the contrasting patterns of our own collections, you can create infinite combinations for a new table every time.
What is the journey from idea to table?
RFA: We have three goals in mind during our creation process: quality, sustainability, and connection. Our designs connect us back to moments of inspiration. Whether it’s a vintage piece of fabric from my interior design days or an old kimono of Sharon’s that inspired the Ukiyo collection, there’s always a story. Sustainability is a non-negotiable for us and can be overlooked by young businesses as it is not always cost effective. Our linens are produced in Lithuania and we use the excess material on our print edges to create logo ribbons. We hate waste and minimise single-use packaging by wrapping our products in reusable cotton bags, designed by our artist.
SO: The past two years have been a rollercoaster. Covid has made production very difficult. We are now settled into good relationships with a few ceramicists in Cape Town. It is important to us that the artisans we work with work in happy and healthy environments. Our producers in South Africa focus on empowering women in a country where women are often not treated equally. Life in townships is tough and if we can help employ just a few women for the moment, we are happy.